Knowing me as you do, you may not be surprised to see the direction I took this week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt. The prompt was “Opening” which could be used in either a literal or metaphorical way or both. I immediately visualised a rib cage opening to reveal a heart.
I used Dylusions black marble paint to coat my page because it creates a really rich black with a lovely smooth finish which is perfect for drawing on with paint pens. The approach I took was the exact same as the one I used to create the Lady Death page in my other current art journal but this time I kept it the doodles much simpler because I wanted to get the whole thing done and dusted within one week’s rations of art time. I think it goes without saying that I did not use any references when illustrating the skeleton. Anatomical accuracy was not remotely going to happen. The rib cage I drew – however short of a few ribs – opens like window shutters to reveal the interior of the body. I knew I wanted to include the heart as a reference to the idea of opening up to someone, thus connecting the literal and metaphorical possibilities of the prompt. Having drawn the heart into the centre of the opening, however, I decided that there was too much empty space. I, therefore, added a pair of lungs. I repeated the pink and red colours elsewhere in the drawing of the skeleton to make the interior and exterior visually coherent.
I had a lot of fun creating this journal page and hope you find it fun to look at.
Continuing with the monochrome black and white theme in my Rainbow themed art journal, I decided to challenge myself to work in white on top of black. I did not have a subject in mind as I loaded the black acrylic on to the pages and actually cannot remember if anything in particular sparked the idea but I decided to draw an illustration of a female Death figure. I opted against using pencil to sketch anything in so I worked directly in paint pen and gel pen to build up the figure, shape by shape, piece by piece. The lack of pencil scaffolding meant that some of my proportions went skew-wiff (the arm on the right is too long) but otherwise I thoroughly enjoyed the freedom and spontaneity of working directly in pen and piecing all of the fragments together into one whole. I did, however, completely use up my broader tipped paint pen so I really put the tools through a work out. It took me a few sessions of drawing to complete it but it was a relaxing activity.
For the penultimate day of Inktober, the Drawlloween prompt was “Skulls and Skeletons” so I decided to draw a skeleton girl. It had been a time since I splashed some red ink into my Inktober sketchbook so I decided to add a sort of silhouette and hair to the skeleton figure for added interest. She reminds me a little of a mixed media piece I did for a Life Book lesson back in May. She was drawn in a bit of a rush and I am confident there is not anatomical accuracy present in my drawing but, on a day that was manically busy, I did still manage to squeeze my Inktober drawing in.
Last week’s Life Book lesson was taken by Effy Wild. Her lesson had a more art therapy approach to it than most Life Book lessons but, as always, it was easy to focus simply on the creative techniques and adapt it to be less personal and emotional. I also had to be pragmatic about time so whereas the lesson demonstrated two layers, a flap that moved across a lower layer, I conflated the two layers into one. I like putting my own spin on lessons so I experienced no dilemma in adapting the lesson to such a great extent. The idea had been to have a lower layer that included a lot of handwriting and a concept represented visually by a skeleton and the flap that covered this would be a painting of a fully human figure, the flesh over the bones. In conflating the two layers, my figure became a mixture of human and skeleton. I, therefore, coincidentally worked on two skull faces in one week.
I decided to try out a red and turquoise colour scheme with a bit of grungy magenta over the black background and some metallic blue in the circle. I rather like the combination so can see me deploying that palette again in future.
My first post of 2016 is about our final Pict family outing of 2015 when we went for an exploration of Ridley Creek State Park. Located near Media, the park comprises over 2000 acres of land but we confined this first visit to one particular trail. We had visited the adjacent Tyler Arboretum in April and I must admit that I was bracing myself for similar levels of moodiness from the four boys. However, the opportunity to roam free, climb trees, battle with sticks, and generally be their feral little selves meant they were stunningly well behaved and agreeable throughout the trek.
We parked up by the Jefford Mansion, a beautiful stone built building from the early twentieth century which now serves as the park offices, and the kids immediately scurried off into what was a cross between an artificial grove and a portico of trees surrounding a formal fish pond. They soon had it turned into an imaginative playground where heroes were doing battle with mythological monsters, twigs brandished, roaring, and racing around.
From there, we ventured into the woods. The ground was still sodden and boggy from the previous night’s deluge of rain but we all squelched along quite happily. There were lots of good climbing trees which the boys were soon scaling and even better were lots of felled trunks that they could shimmy along. It soon became a competition to see who could complete an obstacle course of tree trunk running in the quickest time. The smallest Pict is nimble, fleet of foot, and quite frankly impulsive and reckless so he easily won each and every time.
It was because of the 6 year old’s intrepid ways that we stumbled across the highlight of the trip. We were veering off the demarcated path anyway in order to run along logs but the wee one plunged off into the woods even further and, in doing so, chanced upon the skeletal remains of an adult white tail deer. Well, you would think my boys had just discovered pirate treasure! They have inherited my macabre fascination for decay and mortality so the fault / credit is almost entirely my own but it seems my children are rarely happier on an outdoor adventure than when they stumble across a corpse. The body parts were spread across the clearing so they had fun trying to find all the different parts, like a slightly gross jigsaw puzzle. The skull was the easiest fine after the spine and rib cage but the two middle boys literally jumped up and down with glee when they found the two parts of the mandible. Each hoof was located and identified at which point my youngest son declared that the deer must be a lady because it had high heels.
Animal autopsy over, we kept on with the looping track. We found interesting fungi, including a lump of gelatinous brown slime, like a tree hugging sea anemone, but we did not spot any more wildlife, either live or dead. Wandering through the woods with four loud children never presents the best opportunity for spotting critters but perhaps there was not much to encounter at this time of year anyway. I will just tell myself that. It is a lovely park so we will have to return in the Spring when the flora and fauna are bursting with new life once more and perhaps we can explore another trail.
My sons all receive monthly or every-other-monthly geeky subscription crates. They love getting parcels in the post, love the surprise of the contents, and love to indulge in collecting geeky items. A few months ago, my oldest son received a blank vinyl “munny” figure in his Loot Crate. The idea of these blanks is that people can customise them. There are some absolutely fantastic creations out there. I know because I had not a clue about these things so I had to conduct a google. There are some most impressive, talented people out there. My oldest had a vague idea about what sort of design he wanted to create on the munny but was too intimidated by the thought of errors to make a start. He, therefore, “commissioned” me to do it for him. I have never worked with a vinyl surface before so that was a challenge. I read about all the possible media I could use to design the munny but most involved all sorts of primers and other things I don’t own in my stockpile of art materials. Good old Sharpies were a possibility though so my son and I decided that we would keep it simple and just work with those markers. The Sharpies worked like a charm but it was tricky working on such a contoured surface.
So here, without further preamble, is the result of my first ever creating on a vinyl figure. My sons love my zombie drawings with all their lines and doodles so that type of mark making and style was the brief. Initially we were going to work with a colour in addition to black but, once I had the black pen work done, we decided to keep it monochromatic. I am not convinced I will repeat this type of project any time soon but it was quite fun.
Any lesson on Edvard Munch was bound to be dominated by The Scream: not only is it Munch’s most famous painting but it has become iconic, the subject of many pastiches and homages. It has also been stolen a few times so clearly it appeals to people both honest and dishonest. The kids and I, therefore, spent some time discussing why we thought the painting captured people’s interest and imagination to the extent it has. We also discussed Expressionism and the ways in which The Scream conveyed emotions. We then looked at a few of Munch’s other works but it was clear to me that the boys were likely to work on drawings inspired by The Scream.
My 12 year old of course had to Minecraftify his version of The Scream. I think the focal figure is an Enderman. It is interesting to me the way he has flattened the perspective when it comes to the depiction of the fence. He would benefit from looking at how to work with angles to create an accurate perspective.
My 8 year old turned The Scream around and used its visual structure as the basis of a drawing depicting joy instead of anguish. Because horses make him happy, his figure is strolling along a path past a horse. I think he dashed this drawing off in under five minutes.
My youngest son focused on the concept of conveying emotion. Having not long since seen the Pixar movie ‘Inside Out’, he liked the idea of characters representing different emotions so he drew some quick, simple figures. The blue one is sadness – as his writing explains – and I suspect the yellow one is joy, as in the movie. I am not clear about what the triangular one is.
My 9 year old decided to fuse two different Munch works – The Scream and the Self-Portrait with a Skeleton Arm – for his drawing. His, therefore, is a screaming skeleton. I think the drawing is quite effective, including the frenetic mark making in the background which I think was unintentional and is just a symptom of him rushing but which actually works within the context of the drawing.
Like my second son, I took my inspiration from Self-Portrait with a Skeleton Arm. I was originally going to create a version of his lithograph titled The Brooch but then I decided I should challenge myself to draw a self-portrait. It’s an ink and wash drawing using India ink. The proportions are out of wack – the arm being too close to the head – but otherwise I am pretty happy with the drawing.